The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Peacock 'At Home' AND The Butterfly's
Ball AND The Fancy Fair, by Catherine Ann Dorset and (William) Roscoe

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Title: The Peacock 'At Home' AND The Butterfly's Ball AND The Fancy Fair

Author: Catherine Ann Dorset
        (William) Roscoe

Release Date: November 30, 2007 [EBook #23665]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by David Wilson and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

[p3] THE









[p4] LONDON:
Printed by S. & J. Bentley, Wilson, and Fley
Bangor House, Shoe Lane.

[p5] THE

The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feasts
Excited the spleen of the Birds and the Beasts:
For their mirth and good cheer—of the Bee was the theme,
And the Gnat blew his horn, as he danced in the beam;
’Twas humm’d by the Beetle, ’twas buzz’d by the Fly,
And sung by the myriads that sport through the sky.
The Quadrupeds listen’d with sullen displeasure,
But the tenants of Air were enraged beyond measure.

The Peacock display’d his bright plumes to the Sun,
And, addressing his Mates, thus indignant begun:


“Shall we, like domestic, inelegant Fowls,
As unpolish’d as Geese, and as stupid as Owls,
Sit tamely at home, hum-drum with our Spouses,
While Crickets and Butterflies open their houses?
Shall such mean little Insects pretend to the fashion?
Cousin Turkey-cock, well may you be in a passion!
If I suffer such insolent airs to prevail,
May Juno pluck out all the eyes in my tail!
So a Fête I will give, and my taste I’ll display,
And send out my cards for St. Valentine’s Day.”

[p7] This determined, six fleet Carrier-Pigeons went out
To invite all the birds to Sir Argus’s Rout.
The nest-loving Turtle-Dove sent an excuse;
Dame Partlet lay in, as did good Mrs. Goose.
The Turkey, poor soul! was confined to the rip;1
For all her young brood had just fail’d with the pip.
The Partridge was ask’d; but a Neighbour hard by
Had engaged a snug party to meet in a Pie:
And the Wheat-ear declined, recollecting her Cousins,
Last year, to a feast were invited by dozens,—
But, alas! they return’d not; and she had no taste
To appear in a costume of vine-leaves or paste.
The Woodcock preferr’d his lone haunt on the moor;
And the Traveller, Swallow, was still on his tour;
While the Cuckoo, who should have been one of the guests,
Was rambling on visits to other Birds’ nests.
But the rest all accepted the kind invitation,
And much bustle it caused in the plumed creation.


Such ruffling of feathers, such pruning of coats,
Such chirping, such whistling, such clearing of throats,
Such polishing bills, and such oiling of pinions,
Had never been known in the biped dominions!
The Tailor-Bird2 offer’d to make up new clothes
For all the young Birdlings who wish’d to be Beaux:
[p9] He made for the Robin a doublet of red,
And a new velvet cap for the Goldfinch’s head;
He added a plume to the Wren’s golden crest,3
And spangled with silver the Guinea-Fowl’s breast;
While the Halcyon4 bent over the streamlet to view
How pretty she looked in her bodice of blue!

Thus adorn’d, they set off for the Peacock’s abode,
With the guide Indicator,5 who show’d them the road:
From all points of the compass flock’d birds of all feather,
And the Parrot can tell who and who were together.
[p10] There was Lord Cassowary6 and General Flamingo,7
And Don Peroqueto, escaped from Domingo:
From his high rock-built eyrie the Eagle came forth,
And the Duchess of Ptarmigan8 flew from the North.
[p11] The Grebe and the Eider-Duck came up by water,
With the Swan, who brought out the young Cygnet, her Daughter.
From his woodland abode came the Pheasant, to meet
Two kindred, arrived by the last India fleet:
The one, like a Nabob, in habit most splendid,
Where Gold with each hue of the rainbow was blended;
In silver and black, like a fair pensive Maid
Who mourns for her love, was the other array’d.
The Chough9 came from Cornwall, and brought up his Wife;
The Grouse travell’d south, from his Lairdship in Fife;
[p12] The Bunting forsook her soft nest in the reeds;
And the Widow-Bird10 came, though she still wore her weeds:
Sir John Heron, of the Lakes, strutted in a grand pas.
But no card had been sent to the pilfering Daw,
As the Peacock kept up his progenitor’s quarrel,
Which Æsop relates, about cast-off apparel;
For Birds are like Men in their contests together,
And, in questions of right, can dispute for a feather.

The Peacock, Imperial, the pride of his race,
Received all his guests with an infinite grace,
Waved high his blue neck, and his train he display’d,
Embroider’d with gold, and with emeralds inlaid;
Then with all the gay troop to the shrubbery repair’d,
Where the musical birds had a concert prepared.


A holly-bush form’d the Orchestra, and in it
Sat the Black-bird, the Thrush, the Lark, and the Linnet;
A Bullfinch, a captive almost from the nest!
Now escaped from his cage, and with liberty blest,
In a sweet mellow tone, join’d the lessons of art
With the accents of nature, which flow’d from his heart.
The Canary, a much-admired foreign musician,
Condescended to sing to the Fowls of condition;
While the Nightingale warbled and quaver’d so fine,
That they all clapp’d their wings and declared it divine!
[p14] The Sky-Lark, in ecstasy, sang from a cloud,
And Chanticleer crow’d, and the Yaffil11 laugh’d loud.

The dancing began when the singing was over:
A Dotterel first open’d the ball with the Plover;
Baron Stork in a waltz was allow’d to excel,
With his beautiful partner, the fair Demoiselle;12
[p15] And a newly-fledged Gosling, so fair and genteel,
A minuet swam with the spruce Mr. Teal.
A London-bred Sparrow—a pert forward Cit!
Danced a reel with Miss Wagtail and little Tom Tit.
And the Sieur Guillemot13 next perform’d a pas seul,
While the elderly bipeds were playing a pool.

The Dowager Lady Toucan14 first cut in,
With old Doctor Buzzard and Admiral Penguin;
[p16] From Ivy-bush tower came down Owlet the Wise,
And Counsellor Cross-bill15 sat by to advise.
Some birds past their prime, o’er whose heads it was fated
Should pass many St. Valentines—yet be unmated,
[p17] Sat by, and remark’d that the prudent and sage
Were quite overlook’d in this frivolous age,
When birds, scarce pen-feather’d, were brought to a rout,
Forward Chits! from the egg-shell but newly come out.
In their youthful days, they ne’er witness’d such frisking;
And how wrong in the Greenfinch to flirt with the Siskin!16
So thought Lady Mackaw, and her friend Cockatoo;
And the Raven foretold that no good could ensue!
They censured the Bantam, for strutting and crowing
In those vile pantaloons, which he fancied look’d knowing:
And a want of decorum caused many demurs
Against the Game Chicken, for coming in spurs.

Old Alderman Cormorant, for supper impatient,
At the Eating-room door for an hour had been station’d,
[p18] Till a Magpie, at length, the banquet announcing,
Gave the signal, long-wish’d for, of clamoring and pouncing:
At the well-furnish’d board all were eager to perch,
But the little Miss Creepers were left in the lurch.

Description must fail, and the pen is unable
To recount all the luxuries that cover’d the table.
Each delicate viand that taste could denote,
Wasps à la sauce piquante, and Flies en compôte;
[p19] Worms and Frogs en friture, for the web-footed Fowl,
And a barbecued Mouse was prepared for the Owl;
Nuts, grains, fruit, and fish, to regale every palate,
And groundsel and chickweed served up in a salad.
The Razor-bill17 carved for the famishing group,
And the Spoon-bill18 obligingly ladled the soup;
[p20] So they fill’d all their crops with the dainties before ’em
And the tables were clear’d with the utmost decorum.

When they gaily had caroll’d till peep of the dawn,
The Lark gently hinted ’twas time to be gone;
And his clarion, so shrill, gave the company warning,
That Chanticleer scented the gales of the morning,
So they chirp’d in full chorus, a friendly adieu;
And, with hearts beating light as the plumage that grew
On their merry-thought bosoms, away they all flew.

Then long live the Peacock, in splendour unmatch’d,
Whose Ball shall be talk’d of by Birds yet unhatch’d!
His praise let the Trumpeter19 loudly proclaim,
And the Goose lend her quill to transmit it to Fame.

1. The Rip. A machine used in poultry-yards, under which it is usual to confine the mother-bird with the young brood, till it has acquired strength to follow her. The word is derived from the Saxon Hrip, meaning a covering, or protection, for the young.

2. The Tailor-Bird. So called from the singular manner in which it constructs its nest, which is composed of two leaves, sewed together with wonderful skill by the little tailor, whose bill serves him for a needle, and the fine fibres of leaves furnish him with a substitute for thread, by which means he attaches a dead leaf to a living one, growing at the end of a branch. The Tailor-Bird is an inhabitant of India.

3. The Golden-crested Wren is the smallest of the British Birds; it takes its name from a circle of gold-coloured feathers, bordered with black, forming an arch above its eyes, which it has the power of raising or depressing; it is a native of every part of Europe, and is also to be found in Asia and America.

4. Halcyon, or Kingfisher. Esteemed the most beautiful of our native birds; but its form is clumsy, and its bill very disproportionate to its size. It inhabits the banks of rivers and streams, where it will sit for hours on a projecting branch, watching for its prey. The ancients relate many fabulous stories of this bird, as that of its laying its eggs in the depth of winter, and that during the time of its incubation the weather remains perfectly calm, whence the expression Halcyon days.

5. Cuculus indicator. A bird of the Cuckoo kind, found in the interior parts of Africa; it has a shrill note, which the natives answer by a soft whistle; and the birds repeating the note, the natives are thereby conducted to the wild Bee-hives, which this bird frequents.

6. Cassowary. A large singular bird found in the island of Java, in Africa, and the southern parts of India. The head of this bird is armed with a kind of natural helmet, extending from the base of the bill to near half-way over the head.

7. Flamingo. A bird of the crane kind, but web-footed, whose plumage is of a bright scarlet: when standing erect, it measures above six feet, though its body is not larger than that of a Goose; and is a native of Africa, Persia, and South America.

8. Ptarmigan. The white grouse, or white game, inhabits the Highlands of Scotland and the Western Islands; it prefers the coldest situations on the highest mountains, where it burrows under the snow. It changes its feathers twice in the year, and about the end of February puts on its summer dress of dusky brown, ash, and orange-coloured feathers; which it loses in winter for a plumage perfectly white, except a black line between the bill and the eye. The legs and toes are warmly clothed with a thick long coat of soft white feathers.

9. The Chough. This bird, which is about the size of the Daw, has a long curved bill, sharp at the point, which, as well as the legs and feet, is of a bright scarlet, contrasting beautifully with its black plumage, which varies, as the light falls on it, to a deep purple violet. Its general haunts are the crevices of high cliffs in Devonshire and Cornwall.

10. The Widow, or Widah Bird, is a species of Bunting, a native of Angola and other parts of Africa; and is remarkable for the feathers of its tail. The two middle ones are about four inches long, and ending in a long thread; the two next are thirteen inches in length, broad, and narrowing towards the points: from these proceeds another long thread.

11. Yaffil, the Woodpecker. The name Yaffil is provincial, but is so very expressive of the noise it continually makes, that I have preferred it on that account. It is a beautiful bird, and is sometimes called the English Parrot; the colour of its plumage, green, yellow, and scarlet, giving it some resemblance to that bird.

12. The Numidian Crane, or Demoiselle, from the elegance of its appearance, and its singular carriage, is called the Demoiselle, which means the Young Lady; for this bird walks very gracefully, and sometimes skips and leaps, as though it were trying to dance.

13. Guillemot. A sea-bird, of which there are several species numerously spread over the northern world; from whence they come towards winter to the British shores, and remain till they have reared their young. It is sometimes called “the foolish Guillemot,” from its stupidity; for when their companions are shot one after another, they have so little sense of danger, that they make a small circuit, and then return and settle in the same place, to share the same fate.

14. Toucan. A native of America, where it builds in the hollows of trees, and sits at the entrance, ready to peck at the monkeys, who often endeavour to destroy and eat the young. It is about the size of a Magpie, but the head large in proportion, to enable it to support its immense bill, which is six inches and one-half in length, but extremely thin. It is a mild inoffensive bird, and easily tamed, but cannot endure the cold of our climate. The feathers of the breast are highly esteemed by the natives.

15. Cross-bill. So called because the two mandibles cross each other in different directions. They feed chiefly on the seeds of fir-trees; the singular construction of their bills being admirably adapted to separate the seeds of the cones. The pips of apples are also a favourite food, and, to obtain them, they split the apple with one stroke of their bill; they are consequently found to be very injurious to orchards. It has been observed that they have been more frequently seen in England since the fir-tree has been more generally planted than formerly.

16. Siskin. A migratory bird, which is seen in the southern parts of England at the time of the barley harvest, and is sometimes called the Barley-bird. It has a pleasing note, and is sold as a singing-bird in the London bird-shops by the name of the Aberdevine. The accusation of its flirtation with the Greenfinch is to be understood as pure scandal, the most prying naturalists never having discovered any particular attachment between them.

17. Razor-bill. A migratory sea-bird, which visits the northern shores in spring, and leaves them in winter: they lay a single egg on the ledges of the rocks without any nest, and on which it is said to be fixed with a cement.

18. Spoon-bill. So called from the construction of the bill, which is flat the whole length, but widens towards the end in the form of a spoon or spatula; and is equally remarkable in its substance, not being hard like bone, but flexible like whalebone. They feed on snakes, worms, frogs, and fish, even on shell-fish, which they first break with their bills.

19. The Agami, or Trumpeter. A native of America, remarkable for a singular noise, resembling the instrument from which it takes its name.

[p21] THE

Come, take up your hats, and away let us haste
To the Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast:
The Trumpeter, Gadfly, has summon’d the Crew,
And the Revels are now only waiting for you.

So said little Robert, and pacing along,
His merry Companions came forth in a throng,
And on the smooth Grass, by the side of a Wood
Beneath a broad Oak that for ages had stood,
Saw the Children of Earth, and the Tenants of Air,
For an Evening’s Amusement together repair.
And there came the Beetle, so blind and so black,
Who carried the Emmet, his Friend, on his back
[p22] And there was the Gnat, and the Dragon-fly too,
With all their Relations, Green, Orange, and Blue.
And there came the Moth, with his plumage of down,
And the Hornet, in Jacket of Yellow and Brown;
Who with him the Wasp, his Companion, did bring,
But they promised that Evening to lay by their Sting.
And the sly little Dormouse crept out of his hole,
And brought to the Feast his blind Brother, the Mole.
And the Snail, with his Horns peeping out of his Shell,
Came from a great distance, the Length of an Ell.
A Mushroom their Table, and on it was laid
A Water-dock Leaf, which a Table-cloth made.
The Viands were various, to each of their taste,
And the Bee brought her Honey to crown the Repast.
Then close on his haunches, so solemn and wise,
The Frog from a corner look’d up to the Skies;
And the Squirrel, well pleased such diversions to see,
Mounted high over-head, and look’d down from a Tree.
Then out came the Spider, with finger so fine,
To show his dexterity on the tight line.
[p23] From one branch to another his Cobwebs he slung,
Then quick as an arrow he darted along;
But just in the middle,—Oh! shocking to tell,
From his rope in an instant poor Harlequin fell.
Yet he touch’d not the ground, but with talons outspread
Hung suspended in air, at the end of a thread.
Then the Grasshopper came with a jerk and a spring;
Very long was his Leg, though but short was his Wing:
He took but three leaps, and was soon out of sight,
Then chirp’d his own praises the rest of the night.
With step so majestic the Snail did advance,
And promised the Gazers a Minuet to dance.
But they all laugh’d so loud that he pull’d in his head,
And went in his own little chamber to bed.
Then, as Evening gave way to the Shadows of Night,
Their Watchman, the Glowworm, came out with a light.

Then Home let us hasten, while yet we can see,
For no watchman is waiting for you and for me.
So said little Robert, and pacing along,
His merry Companions return’d in a throng.

[p24] THE

Some years are elapsed, and some worthies are gone,
Since Peacocks and Butterflies mimick’d the ton,
And gave, in a manner becoming their station,
Their fêtes and their balls to their fellow-creation.
Then Roscoe and Dorset, high-talented elves,
Amused other people and solaced themselves,
In describing the revels, the gibes, and the jokes,
Of the creatures of earth, and the feathery folks;
Of their fashion and fancy, the ebbs and the flows,
And the beauty and wit of their belles and their beaux.
But the world has spun round like a peg top since then,
And imparted more knowledge to brutes and to men;
New lights and perceptions old customs explode,
And what is done now, must be done à-la-mode.
[p25] Old fashions are fled, and what more can we say
Than that Dorset and Roscoe might do for that day,
But that Poets must deck in more dignified rhymes
The wonderful deeds of these wonderful times?
That Augusta may spread her renown and her glory,
Her famed Fancy Fairs must be studded in story,
And ages unborn learn the elegant Games
Of the Gardens that bloom on the south of the Thames.
Old Dryden the bard was at best but a gander,
In singing the Feast of the great Alexander;
For what breast with the fumes of a banquet is fired
Two thousand years after the guests have retired?
Our happier bard takes the season that suits,
At the spur of the moment he puts on his boots,
All hot for Parnassus, and cries in a hurry,
“Prepare me my Pegasus! ‘Saddle white Surrey!’”
It is clear that he feels what his numbers prolong,
That he warms with his subject, and soars in his song.
But whether his lot be unhonour’d and low,
Or the wreath of the Laureat encircles his brow,
[p26] With the world to admire him, mysterious elf!
Is a secret of state that he keeps to himself.
But come! Zoological wonders require
The strains of his genius, his force and his fire;
He burns with impatience the scene to display:
Hark away, to the Gardens of Taste! Hark away!

The sun, as he rose, was received with a cheer,
From the Herald at Arms, the renown’d Chanticleer,
Who proclaim’d, with a feeling of pride in his breast,
That the Gardens of Surrey were fairest and best.
Then at once the shrill tidings were borne on the air,
That the dawn had arrived of the famed Fancy Fair,
And that all that was lovely, and beauteous, and bright,
Was summon’d to honour that day of delight.
The sunbeam was clear on that lovely retreat;
The breath of the morning was balmy and sweet;
Fair flowrets, that vied with the rainbow, were seen,
And trees in their livery of liveliest green.
The voice of rejoicing, from children of earth,
Was so mingled with cheerfulness, music, and mirth,
[p27] That the mind, and the eye, and the ear, and the heart
Were saluted with pleasure from every part.
A thousand gay faces appear’d in the throng,
And crowds of fair creatures came trooping along.
Till the place, all enliven’d with joy and surprise,
Was lit up with sunbeams and Beauty’s bright eyes.
The groups of all ages were gather’d so well,
That they threw o’er the poet and painter a spell,
And the flashes of fancy, wit, feeling, and fire,
Resistless compell’d them to pause and admire.

Much pains had been taken to add to the grace,
And preserve from disorder the pride of the place;
To keep the fair flowrets from wandering away,
As well as the things that were fairer than they,
For placards were posted near every spot,
You may stand to “admire” me, “but gather me not.”

The Beasts and the Birds were so fresh and so fair,
That they call’d forth the wonder of all who came there,
And the Boa Constrictors so slimy and gay,
That they seem’d to have painted themselves for the day.
[p28] The Green-bonnet Monkey, with speckles bespread,
Was proud of the verdigris tuft on his head;
For it look’d, as he leap’d in his frolic and joy,
Like the top of the turban of Rammohun Roy.
Dame Tortoise roam’d over the green and beyond,
For she pass’d on her pilgrimage right to the pond.
As she gazed on the Crocodile softly she sigh’d,
Though she thought that his mouth was a little too wide.
The Zebra look’d sprightly, as every one saw,
And the African Sheep and white-footed Nyl Ghau;
And that leaper of leapers, the strange Kangaroo,
That is biped and triped and quadruped too,
Who out-juggles the Juggler, by hill and by dale;
For he makes, when he pleases, a leg of his tail.
With a soft, silky, aspect, demure and profound,
A tabby Cat wander’d the Gardens around,
And purr’d her applause with a quiet delight,
As she gazed half-entranced on the heart-cheering sight.
Among the rare wonders that caught every eye,
Demanding a glance from the gay passer-by,
[p29] Was the Alpaca, Zebu of Indian race,
And the Camel, brought up in that beautiful place.
A dome in the centre, deservedly praised,
Transparent as crystal, was artfully raised,
Where African Lions, and Tigers untamed,
And Sloths and Hyænas, for savageness famed,
And Leopards and Ladies, and Monsters and Men,
Securely might meet in the very same pen.

The crowd still increased on that magical ground,
And thousands and thousands came trooping around.
The haut ton and beau monde paced about debonair,
Tall and short, enbonpoint, slender, sunburnt, and fair,
While Hatred and Anger and Care fled away,
And light hearts and bright eyes were the charm of the day.
Then the painted balloon in its glory was bright,
And it mounted on high till it sail’d out of sight.
The Juggler, with tricks and illusions came forth,
And the Russians with musical horns from the North,
Transporting enough to make Orpheus mute:
As loud as the trumpet, as soft as the lute,
[p30] They fill’d every bosom, absorbing them quite,
And the reeds seem’d to burden the air with delight.
Such strains have rung round me in seasons gone by,
When escaped from the cloister I mused with a sigh,
And listed awhile to the balm-shedding breeze,
As it fitfully swept through the sedge and the trees,
And plaintively whisper’d with musical power,
O’er the “soft-flowing Avon,” at evening hour.

And now the fair parties, with Mirth for their guide,
And light-hearted Laughter, a moment divide,
And gaze on the Eagles, the old ruin’d wall,
The Boat-house, the Temple, the Hermitage, all;
Reproved, when their pleasure too freely they quaff,
By that memento mori, the Afric Giraffe.1

Some visit the laughing-bird, called Cockatoo,
Who drops them a courtesy, and cries “How d’ ye do?”
Or Mungo, the negro, who quaintly and sly
Takes his tea, Cayenne pepper, and cold apple-pie.
[p31] Some gaze on the Cygnets that glide like a dream,
And bend down to admire their fair forms in the stream;
Some laugh at their fancies, or muse on a flower,
And all are delighted, so happy the hour.
Wouldst thou gaze with emotions far purer than mirth
On one of the fairest creations of earth,
Go at even, and breathe the pure breath of the breeze,
From the seat by the Lake, ’neath those wild Willow-trees.

New pleasures succeeded; the spell was of power
That Variety threw o’er the varying hour,
[p32] And a change of enjoyment was found by the train
In losing and finding each other again.
The dancing commenced, and the Fair, beyond praise,
As light as the gossamer, tripp’d through the maze.
What warm salutations! what laughing aloud!
What sounds of enjoyment were heard in the crowd!
But who were the worthies who moved with a grace
And demeanour, as though they belong’d to the place?
Prince Eglantine Eagle, with lightning-like glare,
Threw a glance all around him to see who was there;
[p33] To the Pelican Princesses bent his head low,
As they proudly pass’d by with their bosoms of snow.
Duke Emu, too, gazed on the heart-cheering sight,
And Earl Hildebrand Harpy, so famous in fight;
While the figure that walk’d so erect, I suppose,
Was Sir Peregrine Penguin,—I judge by his nose.
Viscount Stork, as he strutted about, gave a beck
To Earl Vulture, who wears no cravat round his neck;
And the Bishop was there, though he stood rather back,
Array’d in his robes of red, orange, and black,
Sir Archibald Ostrich moved on rather chary,
And lean’d on his cousin the Count Cassowary,
Discoursing of Java, and far distant lands,
And African Deserts, and hot burning sands.
Old warrior Flamingo came limping along,
And with Commodore Cormorant join’d in the throng,
Profoundly debating, with Major Macaw,
The merits of martial and maritime law.
Earl Heron walk’d stately with Caroline Crane,
And Field-marshal Falcon, of valour so vain;
[p34] While Captain Crown Pigeon, so odd in his tread,
Shook the quaking-grass tuft on his fanciful head.
Lord Peacock, from Asia, came dress’d very fine—
His musical taste ne’er accorded with mine;
And the learn’d Baron Buzzard, who gravely decided,
That game, when once caught, should be fairly divided.
The grenadier, Captain Curassow, was drest
In his helmet, and held up his head with the best;
While Fatima Pheasant, from China, display’d
Her Pekin pelisse of bright silver brocade.
Count Turkey expanded the finery that bound him,
And gabbled high Dutch to the people around him.
His Honour the Hawk loved a lark and a race,
So he hover’d about near the courts of the place.
Colonel Kite spoke of sporting—of young Ducks and Widgeons,
And plann’d a new pent-house for Ring-doves and Pigeons.
At the edge of the water, and hard by the sluice,
Tête-à-tête Doctor Drake sat with old Gammer Goose.
[p35] And Sir Christopher Crow wore a coat on his back,
Of a true Day and Martin-like polish of black.
Mother Magpie and Priscilla Parrot, in spite,
Could talk without ceasing from morning to night;
Spread abroad Entre nous and On dits by the score,
All the news they had heard, and a hundred times more.

A multitude muster’d, escaped from the plains,
Of sight-loving lasses and holiday swains:
[p36] Bob Bantam push’d forward and strutted before;
Will Woodpecker modestly tapp’d at the door;
Poor Robin, the rustic, a countrified clown,
As he blush’d, look’d too simple by half for the town,
There were scores in brown mantles, black, yellow, or green,
From the villages round, and among them were seen,
Luke Linnet, Sam Swallow, Mat Martin, and then,
Bill Bullfinch, Tom Titmouse, and Rosanna Wren.
But however select the fair party may be,
Where beauty and fashion preside, we shall see
Some characters doubtful that all should beware,
And it can’t be denied that a few such were there.
Those cut-throats the Sparrows, that robber the Daw,
Who was pluck’d for his open contempt of the law;
The pilferer Cuckoo, whom all must despise,
And the chattering Jay, who tells nothing but lies;
While the green-mantled, light-hearted Love-birds, ’tis said,
Had been sipping too much, for their noses were red.

How often it is, when the sun is most bright,
That a dark cloud approaches, obscuring his light!
[p37] Alas! ’tis the same with all earthly affairs,
And pleasure gives place to a dark crowd of cares.
The Trees were all lively, the Beasts were content,
And the beautiful Birds on their pleasure were bent,
Nothing doubting the multitude, struck with amaze,
Came to gaze on their beauty and speak in their praise
When they saw that the crowd by degrees had retired,
And that they left alone were no longer admired;
They gazed on the Booths that were aptly design’d
To display the fair merchandize art had combined;
They look’d on the spot in wrath, spleen, and despair,
Rank, Beauty, Taste, Fashion, and Fancy were there,
And the multitudes round such attractions preferr’d
To a gambolling beast or a chattering bird.
Now Envy first enter’d the fair feather’d race,
And invective and dissonance rung round the place;
Their pleasure, their pride, and contentment were o’er,
And Discord presided where Peace was before.

In the midst of the hubbub and riot around,
The Trees were absorb’d in a silence profound,
[p38] Till the busy Dwarf Medlar began to explain
His rooted dislike to the booth-loving train.
He branch’d out in florid descriptions to show
That they all ought to stand on their stumps in a row
In defence of their rights, now that underlings drew
That applause and renown which had long been their due.
Then the Oak raised his head, rather hoary with age,
And shook his broad arms in the air in a rage,
And exhorted them all with a feeling of pride,
To maintain their ground firmly, whate’er might betide.
The Giant Elm follow’d and proudly look’d down
On the pitiful plots of their foes with a frown.
The Ash, pale with anger, derided “the crew,”
And the smooth-temper’d Purple Beech look’d rather blue.
The Chesnut grew heated, and roasted them well;
And bitter the taunts of the Almond-tree fell.
The Apple and Pear both maintain’d, in their spleen,
That the fruit of their folly would shortly be seen.
The Laburnum, the Lime, and the Beech seem’d afraid,
But the Hawthorn was pointed in all that she said,
[p39] And the threats of the Elder were heard to abound—
Like pellets from popguns they rattled around.
Discontented and moody the Drooping Larch lower’d,
The Crab knit his brows, for his temper was sour’d;
While the Birch-tree declared that the ill-fated elves,
Their opponents, were making a rod for themselves.
With wrath and vexation the Maple ran o’er;
The Aspen-tree trembled, the Willow wept sore;
The Tulip-tree blush’d, and the Sumach-tree sigh’d,
And the Dyer’s Oak thought it a stain on their pride.
The Fir stood erect, for he seem’d to opine
That their sun for a very brief season would shine;
While the well-meaning Walnut, foreboding their fall,
Crack’d a joke, for he cared not a fig for them all.
The Poplar drew up with a feeling of scorn,
And the Cypress looked sad, and the Yew was forlorn.
The Plane smoothly spoke, and the Hazel the same,
But the Scarlet Oak redden’d with anger and shame.
At last they resolved, to blot out the disgrace,
To stand fast by each other adorning the place;
[p40] No longer their loss of applause to bemoan,
But to come out next spring with a Fair of their own.

While the war-whoop was raised by the Birds and the Trees,
The Beasts were impatient to blow up a breeze.
The Lion began with a royal bewail,
And furiously lash’d both his sides with his tail.
As he stalk’d through his den, his wild eyes glared around,
And his roar seem’d to come from far under the ground.
His anger, disdain, and despair wanted scope,
So he wish’d himself back at the Cape of Good Hope.
The Tiger extended, in uttering a roar,
A mouth that you might have mistook for the door;
But in such a dilemma, I warn you, beware
How you enter in haste such a dark thoroughfare;
For all who have pass’d through the passage they say,
Have terribly painted their coats by the way.
Poor Bruin declared it was unbearable quite,
And was in a brown study till day turn’d to night;
The Axis turn’d round in his rage, and just then
The Sloth look’d as black as the ink in my pen.
[p41] The soft, silky, self-colour’d Puma felt pain,
Pale as ashes with anger he could not restrain;
The Llama indignantly felt the disgrace,
And spirted saliva in every one’s face;
In fury the Mastiff bark’d loud for relief;
The poor patient Camel was laden with grief;
The Antelope wisely eloped from the fray,
But the Springbok was booked for the rest of the day.
The wrath of the Leopard then rose on the gale,
And broke out in dark spots from his head to his tail;
The Civet Cat mew’d, and did nothing but fret,
And the stripes of the Zebra were blacker than jet;
The Opossum was posed, and looked wondrously sage,
And the Red Coati Mondi turned sallow with rage;
The Hyæna declared in a quarrelsome mood,
He would instantly break through his den—if he could:
And the Moose Deer in ire would have bit his lip through,
But he found it already divided in two.
The Schoolmaster Porcupine rang, too, the chimes,—
He declar’d that he’d send an address to “the Times;”
[p42] Nay, write all his quills to their stumps, ere he’d stand
As a laughing-stock thus to the rest of the land.

When the Fair was concluded, and all the gay throng
Had abandon’d the feast and the dance and the song,
In quest of a calmer enjoyment to roam,
For “Home,” after every enjoyment, “is Home!”
The Trees toss’d their heads ’tween the earth and the heavens,
And the Birds and the Beasts were at sixes and sevens.

But amid the confusion, the hubbub, and din,
All remember’d the proverb, “They laugh most who win!
This was certainly true at the famed Fancy Fair;
Mr. Cross2 was, they say, the most pleasant man there.
Let us hope, then, his genius was happily led
To allay the rude storm that hung over his head;—
That the future his spirited plans will repay
Through many a gladsome and prosperous day;
Make true the old saw, “All is well that well ends,”
And Bipeds and Quadrupeds once more be friends.

1. The skeleton of the Giraffe was exhibited in the Gardens on this occasion.

2. The late spirited proprietor of the Surrey Zoological Gardens.


Transcriber’s Note:

The original book has no publication date but does bear a handwritten inscription on the title page—

Walter Francis Clinton
June 2d 1848 from Aunt Lou

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Peacock 'At Home' AND The
Butterfly's Ball AND The Fancy Fair, by Catherine Ann Dorset and (William) Roscoe


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